Saturday, January 21, 2012

Japan...May I Leave?

Now that I have your attention, let's begin!

Daydreaming of non-Japan

It’s been almost ten years since I first stepped foot in Asia to live. I have lived in both Korea and Japan. I have learned a lot along the way. I have had many jobs at many schools. In the last ten years I traveled, had too much fun, received a teaching degree, got married, settled down and started a family.

Things are pretty good.

There is just one problem though. I just cannot seem to stop thinking about life elsewhere. I just can’t stop thinking about living in Canada. I suppose that is natural. I am a Canadian after all. My wife knows this and is very loving and supportive. Sadly, her love and support cannot fix the massive teacher surplus in Canada; a surplus that basically makes my teaching credentials and experience almost useless.

I cannot stop thinking about living in Canada. Living in a place where I understand the language and the television programs. Living in a place where children don’t stare at me and point. Living in a place where high school girls don’t giggle as I walk past. I daydream about a place that I really haven’t seen much of for the majority of my adult life to this point.

I never forget that I am very lucky to have what I have here. I have an amazing wife and a beautiful son. I have a good job and good coworkers. I live in a place that is never dull and always fascinating, but it isn’t the place I think about when I close my eyes at night.

Many of my readers and You Tube videos viewers would simply shake their heads at hearing this. “What do you mean Kevin? How could you want to leave Japan? I have always dreamed of living there!”

I understand where they are coming from. I once dreamed of living in an exciting foreign country. I made the move and it was amazing. I had adventures and loved being immersed in new cultures and experiences. In time though, after many years, that way of thinking changed. I began to long not for new far away places, but the place I originally come from. I started to long for my roots. Not everyone in my situation feels this way, but I do.

I won’t be going anywhere soon, but I will be going somewhere eventually. That’s the plan for my family and I.

Of course, even when we do settle somewhere else, Japan will be a place we will always be connected closely too. My wife is Japanese and my son is half Japanese. We always want him to be closely connected to his family and culture here. Yearly trips to Japan will probably be a reality.

For now though, I am here. I am here and will be positive about the blessings I have.

I can’t stop daydreaming about where I came from though.

A shot I took while waiting for the train the other night. There are many amazing things about Japan. One of them is the fact that almost every moment is an amazing photo opportunity!


Scott Brown said...

I still have a lot of problems with communication and living here but I never feel like living somewhere else! Really I'm even glad when I come back from home or holidays somewhere and I'm back to my life here.

But if you do del like you do you should listen to that feeling and do what it says! always a reason we feel one way or another!

I'll miss you thou!

Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

There is a saying "be careful what you wish for."

I live in the UK and have a Japanese wife and half Japanese son. We live in a "safe" part of the UK which means we are likely to be mugged once a month rather than once a week.

Really, only this morning I heard of a friend who was mugged last night at knife point by two teenagers. We made light of it by saying "well at least he can rest easy for another month." Its a standing joke.

I had another friend who lived in Japan for six years, got married had kids etc. A few years ago he began missing the UK and moved back. Last October, he and his family returned to Japan. They won't be back except for a family visit.

We go to Japan once a year. As soon as we can move there we are. The west is economically and morally bankrupt. My wife was shocked at the low standard of life and the behaviour of people, especially kids.

Believe me, the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence, but rarely is.

Blue Shoe said...

I hear you. Though my girlfriend is in Japan, I decided that I don't want to raise a family over there and live so far away from my relatives. She's going to try to come to the US. I liked living there, but there were a lot of things I missed about the US. Now that I'm here, there are things I miss about living in Japan, but I don't regret my choice.

To some people Japan is a paradise, but it's really not. It's just another place with its own good and bad points. And if nothing changes it is going to be economically bankrupt within the next 40 or 50 years (look at it's debt to GDP). If you want to live somewhere else, don't let anyone tell you you're wrong.

Good luck to you!

Turner said...

I think every expat is destined to be in your state of mind after so much time. Ten years... I am impressed. I understand where you're coming from. After four years off and on in Asia, I was just sick of being the outsider. Despite the good pay and "stability" (stable, but hardly room for advancement), I just wanted to come back and pick up the pieces of a life I started in the US. So I did. Still trying to make it work. Thank you for your insights and support; I hope I can do the same.

Adeel said...

I don't think the public school teacher glut is really that bad. I'm not sure what it's like in BC per se, but you will find a permanent position in Ontario through a combination of time and in-demand skills (eg math, physics, French). Having had prior teaching experience will help.

Now, I haven't done this myself, but everybody I've ever met who has become an Ontario certified teacher after the age of, say, 25 has been able to find a permanent position within a year or two. A few of them have taught in Korea.

cdncarlie said...

Please don't feel bad or ashamed for having those feelings. I realize this is a horrible comparison, but in a way, I know how you feel.

I've spent most of my adult life here in the States, which I know isn't that much since I'm 24, but I can't help but long for my Canadian home in Edmonton. All my family's there and I hate that I only see them every 2 or so years if I'm lucky. I'm tired of having to watch what I say (you should see the look on people's faces when you say eh) and people gawking at my accent.

Ok, sorry for the rant, I just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone in your thoughts. Thank you for being honest with your beloved interweb followers, I for one really appreciate ;)

222 said...

I have friends who had feelings like you have, they returned, and the grass wasn't greener, and the rice tasted different.

If I had to make a life somewhere (I'm British, by the way), if I had to work (I'm retiring soon), if I had to bring up a family (I don't have kids), then I would choose Japan, albeit I would probably head for the inaka, where life is kinder to all and sundry, slower, greener, still traditional.

Kevin O said...

Thanks for all of the responses everyone. I will certainly be in Japan for 2012 and then maybe a little bit as I can see now. thanks for reading and supporting the blog! You guys rock.I promise to write more.

Kevin O said...

@222 the in aka is certainly more inviting if I were to stay long term. i agree!

Medea said...

I certainly understand what you are feeling, I do it too. I do think it is better to live in Japan, especially for my kids, and it is easier to have them learn English here than it would be for them to learn Japanese in Canada.

What about Alberta though? I rather thought they were desperate for teachers in the boom areas.

cdncarlie said...

@Medea I'm from Alberta and from my personal experience, finding teaching jobs really depends on what level you want to teach and also where in Alberta. In Edmonton, where I'm from, things are a bit more difficult although it seems like it's constantly changing all the time, especially with some suburbs. Just thought I'd add that in case you were curious ;)

Marcus75 said...

I was just talking about this with my friend (ESL teacher in Korea). Although, he wants to come back to the states he said that the current economic condition isn't that great for him in USA.

Did you look in USA? I dare to say its pretty much similar to Canada except the level of rudeness:)

EVERY country has its own up and down points so I don't know why these people are so quickly to form an opinion over one country over another?

Benjamin said...

Ah, leaving Japan for that life you always think about. I have to be quite honest with you mainly because this is so fresh in my mind.

Firstly, there is not a day that goes by where I don't think about my children and how much they mean to me, which is why I did what I did.

After living in Japan for some time. Several years, trying to find other avenues outside of being a dead end job ALT. Which I worked hard at creating. I created a start up design office and worked as hard as humanly possible to give my family I was building hope for the future and change.

However, in this time I realized one thing, there was not ever going to be a day that I didn't think about leaving and pursuing the real career I had intended to do.

So, I did the most unimaginable thing. I left. And while its only been a short time since I left. I did it for one reason. I did it because I couldn't sit back knowing that I would always say what if. Because sooner or later it would change me. Destroy my character and my children. Them knowing I always wanted to go back.

You have to make yourself happy. And not the japanese way. Your not japanese. So remember, when you try to conform, don't. That doesn't mean be impolite. But if you have to go, then you better.

Of course there were arguments before the fact I left, but those only validated the truth.

Now that I'm back here, its challenging beyond what my mind creates. I love my son, and my newborn daughter. I will find a way to get them here.

But, I couldn't keep lying to myself about living a life in Japan that I felt was not going to be enough or somehow I felt I was going to let go and become complacent about my situation so my kids could grow up with there father there.

And I know, what I look like to many. But it doesn't change the fact that I still love my children. Only time can tell what will happen.

So thats my input.

Mark Smith said...

15 years and counting...I know life in Japan is tough at times, but the low crime rate and serenity of where I live keeps me here. However, that said, I am totally done with Japan at the same time! Had enough of lazy people, paying out through the rear for literally everything, high gas prices, seeing friends come and go, missing my family, etc. But likewise, I have a son here. My Japanese wife doesn't even give me the time of day. I had a business for 13 years and she wouldn't even answer the phone in Japanese for me. Needless to say, I lost heart in the whole thing and now work full time in a Japanese company. That in itself makes me want to stab myself with a pineapple through the nose! But I need money.
Will I ever leave? Yes, highly likely but for now, I think I need to learn to appreciate the grass on my own side of the fence again.